Over the last couple of weeks, as Christmas approaches, I’ve spent quite a bit of time pondering on the things I’ve done during the last year, and what I’ve learnt as a result. I’m always quite reflective at this time of year, and find that making resolutions comes far easier than actually sticking to them! This post is dedicated to my top five lessons learned during 2011. Here we go…..
1. You cannot be equally good at everything.
I spent a lot of time devising Grand Plans during 2011, none of which really came to fruition. I decided that because I had a basic grasp of sewing, I was only one step away from becoming a dressmaker. So off I trotted to the charity shops, bought a load of lovely but completely unwearable vintage clothes, and sat down to make them into wonderful garments ready to sell on. And this is where I stumbled, and ultimately, fell down. I can make cushion covers, curtains, soft furnishings and add a basic elastic waistline to an oversize t-shirt. I cannot undo seams and alter a dress by two sizes, I cannot add darts or tucks, and I certainly wouldn’t have a clue how to transform a size 22 vintage St. Michael dress into something a size 6 teenager would want to wear. In my head, I have great ideas when it comes to altering clothes – but in reality I lack two things; technical skills and patience.
I also cannot knit – I’ve spent countless hours poring over books and tutorials, sat next to my Mum while she shows me exactly where to put the needles, and even longer staring longingly at knitting patterns on Ravelry. I’ve spent money on needles and yarn, books and even considered attending classes, but I’ve recently just decided that I am simply not one of lifes knitters. I’m guessing that this absolutely won’t stop me trying, though, and that come next year I’ll still be found on the sofa, wielding needles uncomfortably and swearing like a trooper.
While I might not be able to start up a dressmaking-style business, or knit wonderful clothing, there are plenty of crafty things I can do. I can crochet up a storm, follow most patterns and even make up my own – unlike knitting, crochet just seems to make sense in my head. And one hook is infinitely easier to handle than two awkward needles! I can also make soft furnishings, bunting, accessories, and give furniture simple makeovers. While none of these things are going to set the world alight, I’ve decided that I’m happy to be proficient in a couple of things, rather than average at lots of things.
2. Tea makes everything seem better.
Whenever I’m having a bad day, or a difficult time with something I’m making, sitting down with a good old cuppa to have a long ponder always seems to help. Biscuits only seem to amplify this.
3. Concentrate on one thing at a time.
There were a few weeks this year that I found myself trying to juggle way too many different projects – writing articles, illustrating for numerous publications, producing stock to sell at a local fair, setting up an eBay shop and keeping the blog going. All this, combined with being the mother to a toddler, working part time, and trying to keep our home tidy and organised, proved way too much – I ended up having later and later nights, feeling tired and cross, and not being able to do my best at anything. Next year, I’m going to commit to one thing at a time – or maybe two at a push….
4. Your home is absolutely not going to look like something out of Country Living, Country Homes and Interiors, or Homes and Antiques all of the time.
Being house-proud is one thing – obsessing over dust levels and cushion plump-ness is quite another. I read a lot of interiors magazines, and started doing so more for inspiration than anything. But I really do think that spending too long poring over these publications is skating on thin ice – I can recall several occasions where I looked around at our slightly dishevilled but wonderfully homely little flat and felt nothing but loathing. Why didn’t I have a fireplace? Why didn’t all my furniture match? Why wasn’t everything clean and orderly? The answer is simple – because I have a toddler, and a job, and hobbies and interests, and pockets with fairly shallow bottoms.
5. No matter how hard you try, you will never successfully grow plants or vegetables on a balcony that gets two hours of sunlight a day.